Generals Order (GO), or 将军令, is a strategy trading card game developed by Strategy Entertainment Pte Ltd of Singapore and introduced in 2007. Generals Order is the first Chinese strategy trading card game developed by a Singapore company and despite its humble beginnings, has a player base in the hundreds and growing. Generals Order can be played by two or more players each using a deck of printed cards. The number of cards in one deck can vary from forty to sixty cards.
Generals Order is a strategy trading card game that was developed based on ancient Chinese history and the Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In this game, a player takes on the role of a commander-in-chief of an army, with warriors, weapons, and the gift of intelligence at your disposal. The gameplay comprises many features adopted from other TCGs, being a medley and a combination of a multitude of other TCGs in terms of gameplay. The game starts by having both players draw 5 cards from their deck and drawing one card per turn from then on after determining the starting party. The player to start first is denied his first draw.
Every game simulates a fierce battle with a rival camp, with the aim of ultimately destroying their fortress, and successfully defending yours. The fortress is represented by the players' deck of cards, commonly referred to as the resource deck. Victory is gained when a player ensures that their own resource deck outlast their opponents'. This is achieved by removing all of the enemy's deck either to the discard pile or graveyard. This is similar to WWE TCG, which also use the deck as resources, victory conditions and survival.
There are two common ways of achieving this; one is to attack the opponent's resource deck, or fortress, with warriors, the other is to build up a strong enough defense to ensure that the opponent draws himself to death.
The playing area consists of mainly 4 areas, within own city/fortress(自城内), outside own city/fortress(自城外), outside enemy city/fortress(敌城外) and inside enemy city/fortress(敌城内). Usually the main playing area will be the first 3 zones as the last zone(inside enemy city/fortress)can only be accessed through certain special cards. This is similar to Pokemon TCG's benching system.
Other areas include the resource stack, which is actually the area between the inside own city/fortress and the outside own city/fortress. The deck is effectively the wall of your city/fortress. There is also the discard pile, where discarded cards go, and the dead zone/graveyard, which is similar to the discard pile except that the cards placed in the graveyard are removed from play altogether and cannot be returned to the deck in the middle of the game. Another area for higher level play is the command zone.
The position system is important as generals(see character cards) are only allowed one action per turn, which is either an attack or a movement, but not both unless the general uses a special effect or if the player uses certain event cards(see Event\Strategy cards). Generals are able to move directly from within own city/fortress(自城内) to outside enemy city/fortress(敌城外) if the number of enemy generals outside own city/fortress is equal to the number of friendly generals there.
In Generals Order, there are six different type of card categories, namely the character card, the event/strategy card, the special card, the equipment card, the advantageous card, and the command/order card. Any deck can only have up to 3 of the exactly same card.
Character cards are also known as general cards. They form the most of a typical deck's offensive force. All character cards have a summon cost, Military attack(also known as STR, strength or damage) and Intelligence attack(also known as INT, intel).
For a character/general to be successfully summoned, the player must discard an equal number of hand cards as the summon cost of the character. All characters are summoned within own city/fortress unless stated. A character summoned on this turn cannot attack or move until the next turn unless stated otherwise(they still can activate special effects/特效 though).
Military attack is most commonly used and is the determining factor in direct combat(commanding your general to attack an enemy general within the same zone). The general with the higher military attack wins in this situation, in which case the general with the lower military attack is placed in the graveyard of that player. In the case of equal military attack, both generals die simultaneously. Characters do not have any hp and they die on impact, similar to Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. Intelligence attack is usually only used in conjunction with a strategy card. It has no set mechanics instead refers to the strategy card that initiates a strategy attack.
On top of the basic statistics, all generals have either a special effect(特效) or specialty(特点). The only difference between the two is that special effects have to be activated and they usually cost a certain number of hand cards to do so. Specialties are passive and innate, like an aura effect. Special effects are not considered as an action the general takes, however one can only use any special effect from one general once per turn.
A special thing to note about Generals Order is that once a general is dead, the same player cannot summon the same general again, or summon any character having the same name as the dead general(in the case of the different cards bearing the same character in different factions). This makes Generals Order very different from other TCGs.
Event or strategy cards are similar to the magic cards in Yu-Gi-Oh or trainer/supporter cards in Pokemon TCG. They also have a casting cost, similar to the character cards, but they are usually discarded or removed from play once used. They usually provide certain forms of support(like enabling the player to draw more cards, or summon characters at less cost) or initiate an attack which uses Intelligence to determine the winner. The latter are also known as spell cards. Event cards range from all sorts of effects, from direct removal of the enemy's deck cards to the discard pile to weird effects that can kill the entire enemy army once one of the enemy's generals is killed. Their effects usually last for the casting player's turn only. Spells also come in different types, some targeting a single enemy general, other being able knockout all enemies within a zone at once. Certain spells are also known to be restricted to certain zones.
Special cards are like trap cards in Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. They are the only cards you can use on the enemy's turn and they usually are a buff to your generals or a special effect to render the enemy useless. Each special card has a different trigger of activation. They, like event cards, also have a cast cost.
Equipment cards are classified further to Troops or Weaponry. These cards are attached to generals and cannot be unattached without special effect from other cards. They usually provide a permanent boost to the general's raw statistics. A general can only be attached with one Troop type and one Weaponry type at a time unless stated otherwise.
Advantageous cards are horizontal. These cards need conditions to activate its abilities. The abilities will help the player in battle. But there can only be one of these cards on the battlefield. Once a player casts his/her advantageous card, the other player will have to discard his/her advantageous card. These cards do not have a casting cost.
These cards are very special and they are not included in the main deck. They provide certain forms of permanent support to the player throughout the game. They do not have to be drawn or discarded and are placed on the command zone on the field before the start of the game.
In generals order, there is an affiliation mechanic which works based on the factions of the generals the player wants to summon. Basically, the cost for summoning a general is lowered when a general of the same faction is already on the field. Each summoned general provides a -1 discount for the next general. This effect is passive, stackable and cannot be "used up".
A special aspect of Generals Order is the need to "feed" your generals once per turn. Right before a player ends his/her turn, they must remove the number of cards equal to the total number of generals they have summoned on to any part of the playing field(excluding the graveyard) from their deck to the discard pile. Certain generals or equipment require more resources to be discarded per turn. This mechanic stops players from summoning huge numbers of generals at a time and also promotes more active use of your generals.
When one thinks of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one would naturally think of the three main factions, which are Wèi (魏), Shǔ (蜀), and Wú (吳). In Generals Order, all cards are classified into factions and there are currently six different factions, represented by six different colors. Each color/faction has its own unique traits and characteristics. Factions are official classifications of cards, which is a benchmark for the maximum cards a player can have in his hand cards at the end of his turn. Extra cards need to be discarded. A pure 1 faction player can have up to 10, a 2 faction player can have up to 8 and those with 3 or more faction in their deck can only have up to 6. The smallest maximum hand size is currently 6.
Led by the warlord Liu Bei, this is one of the 3 main factions in history. Being portrayed as the main protagonists in history, they are known to be benevolent, stoic, loyal and righteous. In the game, this faction comprises many of the well known warriors like Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun, and the great advisor Zhuge Liang. The characteristic of the blue fraction is having a large number of good warrior cards and cards which force the enemy to move. Hence, people who play Shu usually go for a more offensive approach. However they should be wary against spell caster decks.
Led by the warlord Cao Cao, this is one of the 3 main factions in history. Cao Cao is known to be an extremely clever individual who excels in both charisma and war. However he is also a controversial person as he is usually depicted to be egocentric and a megalomaniac. In the game, this faction is known to be offensive and swift in attack. They also have an abnormally high number of high intelligence generals. The characteristics of the red fraction is that they have the most number of cards, among all the factions, that deal damage directly to the opponents resource deck.
Led by the warlord Sun Quan, this is one of the 3 main factions in history. An elusive yet powerful faction in history, they are well known for hiding their strengths until the last moment and acting passively but surely. In the game, this faction is known to be defensive in nature. The characteristics of the green fraction is that they have the most number of defensive cards and players playing green will usually adopt a defensive strategy as well. They have lots of buffs that only work while the generals are in either within own city(自城内) or outside own city(自城外).
Led by the warlord Dong Zhuo, who was a historical character that was featured slightly before the three kingdom period. He was well-known to be brutal and incredibly malicious and despicable in his doings as a ruler. Well known warriors in this fraction include Lü Bu, one of the strongest fighters during that period. The Characteristic of the purple fraction is that the nature of their cards tend to allow the players to deal extra damage and they have lots of high cost, high damage generals with few low cost ones.
Led by the warlord Yuan Shao, who was also a historical character during that period. His note to fame was when he led a personal campaign against Dong Zhuo. The characteristic of the brown faction is cheap cost, high damage generals that cause the user to attain some damage in order to play the card due to their specialty.
Led by Zhang Jiao, a sorcerer that started the famous Yellow Turban Rebellion. They are, in history, a bunch of uninteresting regional gangs that staged a large uprising by drawing large crowds to them and using sheer numbers to overrun the Dong Zhuo government. Characteristics of the yellow faction is that they usually attack in numbers, and users of this faction will usually attack the opponent's fortress with a horde of warriors due to the incredibly low summon costs of almost all their generals.
This faction is made up of eighteen warlords and led by Yuan Shao. This army is built during the start of the Three Kingdoms era. It rivaled against the chancellor, Dong Zhuo(purple faction). They existed historically around the same time as Dong Zhuo's regime but split later to the standard Shu(Blue faction), Wei(Red faction), Wu(Green faction), and Yuan(Brown faction) factions. They fight based on a highly uncommon scavenger style that changes the statistics of many of their generals based on the number of their dead.
The new faction to be released in version 4, this faction sports the southern barbaric tribes of ancient China. It is led by Meng Huo, who later joined Shu in version 5. The generals in this faction have unique abilities and usually rely on the number opponents hand cards or generals for its ability to be very effective.
Cards that are grey do not belong to any faction. These cards are usually event or strategy cards. There are some faction-less generals but they are extremely rare. There is a series of strategies called the "Thirty-six Strats" are a set of very powerful but situational event cards found in this faction. The strategies are derived from Sun Tze's Art of War.
This faction name literally means "Outstanding". Generals from this faction are considered legendary and do not belong to the Three Kingdom era, but found further in the past. Extremely rare, possibly only available during events. Most of them have very powerful abilities. For example, one of them allows you to summon another general from your hand cards for free every time you kill an opponent general. However, some of them have immensely devastating specialties such as having to discard more than half your deck when they die, or having to discard a card whenever they do an action every turn.
This faction consist of most general that used to have double affiliation, such as Sun Shangxiang being sister of Sun Quan and wife of Liu Bei, this cause her to have double affiliation of being both Shu and Wu general.
Currently, the game has four expansions, namely 起点 (expansion 1), 群雄争霸 (expansion 2), 乱世枭雄 (expansion 3), 傲视天下 (expansion 4), 龙决于野 (expansion 5), 灰飞烟灭 (expansion 6). The developers have launched the sixth expansion recently (around July 2013).
Besides being projected as a recreational game, Generals Order has also been marketed as an educational tool, used in various primary and secondary schools to help promote interest in the Chinese culture and language. Through the use of an interactive educational program, student interest in the Chinese culture, as well as the stories of the three kingdom era, are brought out.
The Generals Order Educational Programme is also featured in Thumb Up.